Book reviews Book reviews
A Private Cosmos
"A Private Cosmos" (1968) is the third novel in the World of Tiers series by Philip José Farmer, set mainly in an artificial world created by the Lord Jadawin. Farmer's brilliant inventiveness is exemplified by the World of Tiers itself, shaped like a tiered wedding cake with different civilisations on each level. An artificial sun and moon circle this super-monolith. On the very top is the Palace of the Lord, the God of this universe.

The first book Maker of Universes was an odyssey up the world from Okeanos to the Palace, climbing the mountains of Thayaphayawoed then Abharhploonta then Doozvillnavava then Idaquizzoorhruz. This book is more a romp, the first one in the series to focus on the author's alter-ego of Paul Janus Finnegan better known as Kickaha, who has taken over the series from Wolff.

Kickaha is involved in a battle against the Bellers, a nightmare from the Lords' past. This battle takes us over quite a lot of the World of Tiers, exploring civilisations like Talanac which Farmer weaves skilfully and convincingly out of his writer's art. We also meet characters like Podarge from the first book, and take a trip to the moon!

Farmer has an explicit tribute to Edgar Rice Burroughs here - on the moon has been recreated some of the denizens from Burroughs' Mars books. Burroughs was a major figure in the history of fantastic fiction, avidly read by authors like Farmer and influencing them.

I first read this memorable book at university, borrowing a copy from the CUSFS library. I addictedly turned the pages while the next-door student was blaring forth Pentangle. Somehow the book and folk music and the period became entangled in my mind.